Sunday 18 August 2019

Three weeks to the European elections – but who is leading the campaign?

The European elections may be three weeks away, but six in 10 people in the Netherlands do not know who the campaign leader of the party they plan to vote for is, according to a new survey by research bureau I&O.

The best known of the campaign leaders is former foreign minister Frans Timmermans, who is heading up the PvdA campaign. More worrying for the right-wing VVD – 10% of people who plan to vote for the party on May 23 think Timmermans is their party leader.

In total, 69% of people were able to identify Timmermans but others, some who have worked in Brussels for years, were off the radar. D66’s campaign leader Sophie in ‘t Veld, who is a high-profile campaigner, was recognised by just 26% of those polled. She has been an MEP since 2004.

One in 10 voters could recognise Marcel de Graaff, leader of the anti-EU PVV while just 9% and 7% knew who Esther de Lange (CDA) and Bas Eickhout (GroenLinks) are.

The research results were much more pessimistic about support for the EU and voting intentions than a recent poll by the EU-allied Eurobarometer.

Almost one in five said the Netherlands should follow Britain and leave the EU, compared to just 8% in the Eurobarometer survey.

I&O also said 46% of those polled agreed that EU institutions have too much power and 47% said European integration had gone too far.

I&O also forecasts turnout in the vote will be between 37% and 45%, whereas Eurobarometer put it at over 70%. At the last EU elections in 2014, just 37% of the population voted.

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